Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for self-reliance last week has brought back the government’s focus on improving quality and increasing production in sectors like footwear, capital goods, textiles, pharmaceuticals and electronics. The government, which identified these industries and several others as having “unnecessary” imports, plans to improve the quality of domestically made products and discourage these imports “as fast as possible”.
“There are areas where India can get that strength (of self reliance) because of a lot of natural factors. There are certain sectors which have been identified by various ministries where there are a lot of unnecessary imports, where India can manufacture itself,” said Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra.
“We have to emphasise Indian production of a certain scale, certain quality and certain standards. Then only can your product match up to the best in the world,” he said. Footwear and non footwear leather, furniture, gems and jewellery, capital goods and machinery, mobile and electronics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, garments and manmade fibres are some of the sectors where India has a natural advantage and potential to be a strength for the country, said Mohapatra. “Those are the areas we will be focussing on,” he said. This can be done through discouraging activities like imports and providing more incentives, focus and handholding for these sectors.
As per data by the Commerce Ministry, India imported $467.2 billion worth of commodities between April and March 2019-2020. India also imported electronic goods worth $54.5 billion and medicinal or pharmaceutical products worth $6.7 billion. In crucial sectors like pharmaceuticals, industry executives previously told The Indian Express that India used to be self-sufficient in producing the key bulk drug ingredients used to make important medicines in the country around 30 years ago. However, the ability of Chinese manufacturers to provide these bulk drugs at a cheaper rate to drug makers led to several units here shutting shop.
“In the last two years, there have been incentive policies for sectors like medical devices, for APIs and for electronics. We want leadership status in sectors where we have an advantage,” said Mohapatra.
“The bottom line is that you have to create conditions for domestic producers to manufacture efficiently so that they can be competitive. This is possible only through a well articulated industrial policy framework that provides at least a medium-term perspective for the manufacturing sector. The government has been promising an industrial policy for the past three years, but it has still to see the light of the day,” said Biswajit Dhar, professor at JNU’s Centre for Economic Studies and Planning.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines